This past Tuesday, Electronic Arts released a brief press statement announcing that it would begin releasing its PC titles on Valve's Steam storefront once again. Starting with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on November 15th, EA will begin to roll out several of its previous releases over the next year, including The Sims 4, Battlefield V, FIFA 20, Unravel Two, and Apex Legends onto the Steam platform. In addition to releasing its PC games on Steam, EA will also launch its subscription service EA Access on Steam starting next spring. The titles will include cross-play between the two services, allowing gamers to play online with both Steam and Origin users.
Electronic Arts previously released its games there before but ceased doing so in 2011 to launch its own competitive storefront and PC client, Origin. On paper, this feels like an obvious move. For those unaware, when a publisher/developer releases its game on Steam, Valve takes a 30% cut on all sales made on the platform. This isn't an excessive amount as this is the industry standard. However, Electronic Arts -- like other companies -- likes money. It likes to make money and like other greedy corporations today, it doesn't want to make some of the money, it wants to make all of the money. So what better way to do this but to cut out the middle man and just publish, release, and distribute games through its own storefront and PC client? That way, said corporation doesn't have to give a cut to anyone -- retaining all the money from sales.
Unless one is bad at providing features and quality of life services that its competition is offering, of course. For as much trouble Steam has with all the shovelware and asset flips titles the storefront has, Valve has managed to make sure Steam has a lot of services that makes its the preferred PC experience for clients. The only other storefront that has been able to compete with Steam is GOG, and even that service has nowhere near the install base of Steam. Over the past eight years, EA has desperately been trying to make Origin competitive with Steam. However, despite making its big releases exclusive to its own client, none of them -- not Battlefield 3, not Battlefield 1, not Star Wars Battlefront, not Anthem, not even Apex Legends -- has moved the market in the company's favor. Especially in the advent of the Epic Games Store's big push against Steam, Origin is sitting somewhere in fifth or sixth place.
It is doubtful EA will shut down Origin, as it has built the brand and made it recognizable, even if it isn't successful. However, having its titles on Origin as well as Steam will increase its sales substantially. Even with the 30% cut, the sheer number of sales it is now opening itself up to will net the company more money than if it only had it on its proprietary client. It seems clear that EA was never interested in making a client that offered the best for gamers and instead made Origin solely to be able to eat the whole pie of profits. However, it has since learned that when given the choice between an inferior product with exclusives to a superior product with everything else, the inferior product will fail.